Paul Churchland

Canadian philosopher

Paul Churchland (born October 21, 1942) is a Canadian philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind.

Quotes edit

  • We do have an organ for understanding and recognizing moral facts. It is called the brain.
    • Paul Churchland. A Neurocomputational Perspective, 1989.
  • How such an elaborate theory could have become so widely accepted – on the basis of no systematic evidence or critical experiments, and in the face of chronic failures of therapeutic intervention in all of the major classes of mental illness... – is something that sociologists of science and popular culture have yet to fully explain.
    • Paul Churchland. The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul. (1st ed.). MIT Press. 1995. pp. 181: Talking about Freudian analysis.
  • Your brain is far too complex and mercurial for its behavior to be predicted in any but the broadest outlines or for any but the shortest distances in the future.
    • Paul M. Churchland (1996) The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey Into the Brain. MIT Press, 1996. p. 3
  • You and I have a confidence that most people lack ... We think we can continue to be liberals and still move this forward.
    • quoted in Larissa MacFarquhar, "Two heads: A marriage devoted to the mind-body problem", The New Yorker (2007)

"Eliminative materialism and the prepositional attitudes," 1981 edit

Churchland, Paul M. "Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes." The Journal of Philosophy (1981): p. 67-90.

  • Eliminative materialism is the thesis that our common sense conception of psychological phenomena constitutes a radically false theory, a theory so fundamentally defective that both the principles and ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced, rather than smoothly reduced, by completed neuroscience.
    • p. 67; As cited in: Paul K. Mose (2002). Contemporary Materialism: A Reader, p. 21
  • Seeing our common-sense conceptual framework for mental phenomena as a theory brings a simple and unifying organization to most of the major topics in the philosophy of mind.
    • p. 68: About "Why folk Psychology is a theory."

Matter and Consciousness, 1984/1988/2013 edit

Paul M. Churchland (2013), Matter and Consciousness.

  • The curiosity of Man, and the cunning of his reason, have revealed much of what Nature held hidden.
    • p. 1: opening sentence of chapter 1.
  • Folk Psychology is faced with special difficulties here, since its conception of learning as the manipulation and storage of propositional attitudes founders on the fact that how to formulate, manipulate, and store a rich fabric of propositional attitudes is itself something that is learned, and is only one among many acquired cognitive skills. Folk Psychology would thus appear constitutionally incapable of even addressing the most basic mysteries.
    • p. 7
  • Eliminative materialism also doubts that the correct neuroscientific account of human capacities will produce a neat reduction of our common-sense framework, but here the doubts arise from a quite different source. As the eliminative materialists see it, the one-to-one match-ups will not be found, and our common-sense psychological framework will not enjoy an intertheoretic reduction, because our common-sense psychological framework is a false and radically misleading conception of the causes of human behavior and the nature of cognitive activity. On this view, folk psychology is not just an incomplete representation of our inner natures; it is an outright misrepresentation of our internal states and activities. Consequently, we cannot expect a truly adequate neuroscientific account of our inner lives to provide theoretical categories that match up nicely with the categories of our common-sense framework. Accordingly, we must expect that the older framework will simply be eliminated, rather than be reduced, by a matured neuroscience.
    • p. 43; Partly cited in: Advances in Descriptive Psychology (2006), p. 43
  • The basic idea is that cognitive activities are ultimately just activities of the nervous system; and if one wants to understand the activities of the nervous system, then the best way to gain that understanding is to examine the nervous system itself.
    • p. 96; As cited in: Peter Zachar (2000) Psychological Concepts and Biological Psychiatry. p. 132

About Paul Churchland edit

  • In his 1981 article, “Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes”, Paul Churchland presents several arguments in favor of dropping commonsense psychology that have shaped the modern debate about the status of ordinary notions like belief.
    • Ramsey, William, "Eliminative Materialism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Summer 2013 Edition, Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

External links edit

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